Advice to graduates: Reject the calls to ‘find yourself’ and ‘follow your passion’

Graduation season is upon us, and with it is sure to come a flurry of commencement addresses crammed with platitudes about self-actualization, self-indulgence, and self-fulfillment. Though accompanied by occasional urges to “change the world” and “make a difference,” all will still fit neatly within a much broader cultural aim: “finding ourselves,” “trusting ourselves,” and “being true to ourselves.” “It’s about living the life you want,” Oprah says, aptly capturing the spirit of the age, “because a great percentage of the population is living a life that their mother wanted, that their husband wanted, that they thought or heard they wanted…Start embracing the life that is calling you and use your life to serve the world.” Meanwhile, the real and tangible needs of our social and economic contexts swirl around us—present and future, seen and unforeseen—each of them held captive to the whims of our “passions” and “the life we want.” Overwhelmed by the distraction, we look inward, neglecting the moral foundations and social bonds that are so critical for communities and institutions to flourish. Continue Reading...

The search for transcendence

Yesterday a short video, originally posted by Forbes a few months ago, popped up in my browser. Called “Finding Meaning Through Travel,” it discusses several people who have supposedly found their calling in a life of travel and exotic pursuits. Continue Reading...

Learning to love institutions in an age of individualism

In the wake of rapid globalization and widespread consolidation, many have grown weary of human institutions, whether in business, religion, politics, or beyond. Threatened by their structure and slowness, we have tended to detach ourselves, opting instead for more “organic” approaches to human interaction. Continue Reading...

The virtues of boredom in an anxious age

Today’s parents are fixated on setting their children on strategic paths to “success”— cramming their days with lessons, sports, clubs, camps, and so on. The goal: to enrich their kids’ lives with new knowledge and experiences. Continue Reading...

Annunciation: Mary’s vocation and ours

March 25 is the feast of the Annunciation, exactly nine months before Christmas Day, and marks the moment that Jesus Christ was conceived “of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and became Man.” The primary importance of this event – which is recorded in St. Continue Reading...

The moral threat of measuring the ‘pay gap’

The “ethnic pay gap” in the UK has been estimated at £3.2 billion ($4.2 billion U.S.), or nearly $200 a week. To rectify this, 15 major employers – including the Bank of England, Deloitte UK, and Citibank UK – have agreed (after nudging from the Conservative government) to publish their ethnic pay figures. Continue Reading...